Oracle dives into cloud (again), and this time it really means it

At Oracle OpenWorld last week, Oracle CEO — er  CTO and Executive Chairman Larry Ellison — once again vowed that his company will be king of cloud — in SaaS, Paas, IaaS — you name it.

That’s a tall order but one coming from a company flush in resources which has shown itself willing to buy into new markets. And Ellison and co-CEOs Safra Catz and Mark Hurd trotted out news that Oracle now offers its flagship Database as a Service. Ditto Java as a Service. As for those resources,  Oracle had about $51.6 billion in cash on its balance sheet for the most recent quarter. Over the last 12 months, it logged $35.8 billion in revenue and gross profit of $31.04 billion. See what I mean?

For a CEO who once pooh-poohed cloud computing as a relabeling of older time-share technology, Ellison’s gotten with the program for real now. (And to be fair, he was right that today’s SaaS is suspiciously like the application service provider (ASP) wave of years ago.)

As for the database option, this could be a very big deal even though customers can already run [company]Oracle[/company] databases on Amazon Web Services, according to’s Mark Fontecchio who wrote:

But the [company]Amazon[/company] service is primarily for new instances of Oracle’s database, while what Ellison announced Sunday night is the ability to easily move existing on-premises instances of Oracle Database 11g and 12c to the cloud. That is impressive, and once Oracle Database shops decide to move to the cloud, I think it will be a primary option.

I would agree with that. Oracle is database in most financial services and other big enterprise shops but that’s a legacy– albeit extremely large market. When it comes to startups that might be the giants of tomorrow, Oracle is not the natural database choice any more. And that’s a looming problem for the company.

In SaaS, there were lots of shots taken at category leader, but they were hardly credible (and given the history of trash talk between Ellison and CEO Mark Benioff, a former lieutenant, hardly surprising.) Some of Oracle’s biggest partners acknowledge that Oracle’s SaaS applications aren’t exactly burning up the market – – so in typical “more-is-more” style Oracle announced something like 170 new SaaS applications at the show.

It is, however true, that does run on Oracle databases and middleware, although its Heroku  PaaS unit, does not.

In the marketing cloud division of SaaS, Ellison claimed that due to 29 services developed in house or acquired last year, it has “more customers and more applications than anybody,” according to Informationweek. More applicaitons maybe, but more customers? Not so sure on that.

And, as Informationweek also pointed out:

As cloud-focused as Ellison made Oracle sound, the numbers from the company’s most recent quarterly report seem at odds with the “inflection point” claim. The lion’s share, 53% of revenue, came from on-premises software license updates and support, 17% came from new software licenses, just 3% came from SaaS and Pass, and 1% came from infrastructure-as-a-service.


The Structure Show — Building big apps using cheap services

Talko is a good example of how the advent of cloud computing and open-source software up-ended Oracle’s high-price software sales model. Not even 15 years ago, when a new-born company got a few million dollars in venture funding, the first stop was typically Oracle and Sun Microsystems to plunk down a good chunk of that money on Oracle database licenses and Sun servers. Not at all true any more.

Matt Pope, who co-founded [company]Talko[/company] with former Microsoft chief software architect Ray Ozzie and Eric Patey, a rew years ago, can attest to that. On this week’s show he talks about how software startups can get started very very cheaply using Amazon Web Services, Azure and Google Cloud resources and a wide array of inexpensive tools including their NoSQL database of choice, et al.

Talko Co-Founder Matt Pope

Talko Co-Founder Matt Pope

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